Five steps to getting started on the right foot

September 29, 2015


How many times have you said “if the driver would have just given it another week it would have worked out?” Many times drivers quit before we think they really give us a chance. But we have to ask ourselves, ‘did we really do our best to make them feel like they made the right choice coming to our company?’ In this article I will outline five steps to make the most of the time we have with the driver in orientation.

  1. Recruiters should meet their Drivers in Orientation — People get committed to people not to companies. The driver chose to come to work for your company not only because of the pay and benefits you offer, but because they believed the recruiter as they presented the information. There is a relationship of trust that is developed. However, many recruiters don’t think they have time to go into orientation and meet the drivers they hired because they are so busy hiring next week’s class.

    This can be the start of the driver’s impression they are just a number. Furthermore, it is a lost opportunity for the Recruiter to ask the driver for his/her help by referring other drivers to them.

  2. Be Organized — One of the things I do as an independent consultant conducting driver recruiting, retention analysis and training is to attend orientations under cover as a driver. This gives me the opportunity to experience a company’s orientation program from the eyes of a driver. Moreover, I hear first hand what drivers think about the orientation process.

    One of the biggest gripes I hear from drivers comes when they have to sit around and wait for the presenter during orientation. All they can think of is the fact that they aren’t making enough money to pay their bills while sitting in that class.

  3. Give Tour early in Orientation — Most companies schedule the tour of the company as the Graduation March from Orientation.

    Give the tour of your company no later than right after lunch on the first day. During this tour you can introduce as many of the key personnel as are available. This will work to make the drivers feel like they are already part of the company.

    Successful Driver Retention is about doing a lot of the right things right. Most driver retention solutions don’t cost anything, it’s just improving the way we do the things we already do.

  4. Meet Fleet Manager/Dispatcher early in Orientation — This is usually part of the Graduation March I mentioned above. The Fleet Manager is sitting at their desk and they look up just long enough to ask the driver what truck they will be on and say a half-hearted “glad to have you” and then they tell the driver to make sure to sign on to the satellite system so they can send them a load.

    The introduction to the Fleet Manager should take place during the tour on the first day. This will start the relationship and give the opportunity for the Driver and Fleet Manager to meet in passing over the course of orientation during breaks and lunch. It also allows time for a meeting in which they go over mutual expectations which sets the tone for the entire working relationship.

  5. Assign Trucks on first day of Orientation – This is usually done at the very end of orientation; and with great expectations the driver goes out to the truck ready to throw his/her stuff in it and finally get on the road. But while inspecting it they find a couple things the shop needs to fix before they leave. Now they are sitting and waiting again. Then they start asking themselves ‘is this the way it’s going to be?’ Then they think about going to talk to their Recruiter about it, or the Orientation Instructor or their Fleet Manager. But they can’t because everyone has gone home. So this is how they will spend the first night at their new company.

    If you assign the drivers to their trucks on the first day of orientation it helps them to start feeling like they belong. They can move into the truck during the evening and if they find any mechanical issues it gives the shop another day or so to fix the truck without having the driver waiting and looking over their shoulder.

This article was written by Kelly Anderson, President of the Society of Recruiting and Retention Professionals.